Blood Clot Agent's Genes Are Read
Blood clot agent's genes are read
The protein responsible for triggering blood clots in the body has been cloned and its genetic code cracked, researchers report. The new information, they say, could eventually lead to the development of a new class of anticlotting drugs to combat heart attacks and strokes.
The protein, called tissue factor, is one of eight major proteins involved in coagulation. But unlike the other clotting proteins, which circulate in the blood, tissue factor is bound to cell membranes within blood vessel linings. Because of the difficulties in working with such membrane-bound proteins, and because the protein is present in extremely minute quantities, tissue factor did not succumb easily to genetic analysis.
"It took a long time to convince people that it even existed,' Ronald Bach, one of the researchers, told SCIENCE NEWS. "This is not just an accelerator, but the initiator' of the clotting process, he says. And not surprisingly, he notes, the amino acid sequence of tissue factor is remarkably different from other clotting factors--evidence that tissue factor has separate evolutionary roots. Whereas other clotting factors rely upon proteolytic activation by blood-borne enzymes, tissue factor triggers coagulation in response to tissue damage. …